BELLWOOD - The Bellwood-Antis seniors shined in a 7-3 playoff win at over Richland in the District 6 Class AA high school baseball quarterfinals Monday afternoon.
The Blue Devils were led by pitcher Chad Luensmann, who went the distance throwing a complete game, scattering five hits and allowing only one earned run, while striking out seven.
Bellwood got on the board first in the bottom of the second when third basemen Jordan McCracken singled on a liner to center field.
This hit brought in designated hitter Zach Mock, who had reached via a walk earlier in the inning off Rams starting pitcher Tim Meyers. Richland responded in the top of the third when a single by Jon Kutchman plated Ryan Onderko, who had singled up the middle to start the inning. The Rams then capitalized on a Bellwood miscue when Kutchman, and second baseman Andy Frear scored when a Tyler Mikesic fly ball was dropped with two outs to take the lead 3-1.
There was a scary moment in the top of the third as first basemen Tanner Snyder went up to catch a ball at first base and came back down on the side of the bag spraining his ankle. Despite the injury, he remained in the game and went on to lead all batters with three hits, two of which came after the injury had occurred.
"He is one of our senior leaders out there, one of the toughest kids I know, a lot of guys probably wouldn't of been out there, the trainer kept going back and forth [on whether we] should we let him out there or not," said Bellwood-Antis coach Steve Conlon regarding Snyder's injury. "But he [Snyder] asked to stay in the game, and that's what you want out of a senior leader."
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Bellwood's Trenton Creppage broke the offensive drought when his single to right field scored senior shortstop and football standout Casey Gray from second base.
Creppage came home on a clutch two-out single by Randy Zitterbart to tie the game at three.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth, the Blue Devils were back at it in the bottom half of the inning, loading the bases with no one out, when Gray singled up the middle plating a pair.
With two men in scoring position and still no outs, Creppage singled, scoring Luensmann. Gray was called out at the plate after a nice relay was in plenty of time to retire him from right field. The Blue Devils added an insurance run later in the inning as Creppage came in on a wild pitch by Rams' pitcher Tyler Mikesic.
The 7-3 lead was enough as Luensmann shut the door in the seventh, sitting down the Rams in order once again.
"We rebounded nicely after that hiccup in the third," Conlon said. "Chad and the defense settled in and it was smooth sailing from there."
"The baseball gods weren't with us today," Richland coach John Sidor said. "They capitalized on our mistakes, and we didn't make them pay for their's."
The Rams finished the season 15-6-1 while Bellwood improved to 19-3 and will take on Bald Eagle Area on Thursday.
BELLWOOD (7): Stapleton cf 410, Luensmann p 311, Gray ss 422, Creppage c 322, Snyder 1b 403, Mock dh 310, Zitterbart rf 402, McCracken 3b 301, Kline lf 201. Totals - 30-7-12
RICHLAND (3): Frear 2b 200, Kutchman 3b 311, Shirk ss 311, Mikesic 1b-p, 300, Rolan rf-1b 300, Pecora lf 200, Ziants dh 201, Buchanan cf-p 301, Onderko c 311. Totals - 24-3-5
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bellwood-Antis010 024 X-7 12 1
Richland003 000 0-3 5 3
E-Zitterbart, Roland, Kutchman 2. RBI-Gray 2, Creppage 2, Zitterbart, McCracken, Kutchman. WP-Luensmann. LP-Watt. SO-Luensmann 7, Meyers 5, Buchanan 1, Mikesic 1. BB-Luensmann 1, Meyers 1, Watt 2